2014 Imagine Award honoree Jessica Evans.
Jessica’s memory of her own childhood is largely one of solitude. She recalls spending many hours playing alone at home – perhaps a hint at the struggles with depression and anxiety she would experience in her teens. By 12th grade, Jessica had lost the will to continue with school. She was depressed and looking for an escape – as she puts it, she just wanted to be “free” – and so she dropped out of school before graduation. Thus began an aimless, unproductive period in Jessica’s life – more free-fall than freedom. She left her mother’s home and found herself in a bad relationship, further undermining her self-esteem. Then Jessica learned she was pregnant.
It was a scary and uncertain time. Jessica was very nervous about having a baby. She had heard about CHiP from another family member who had used CHiP services, so Jessica decided to see if CHiP was right for her. Those first meetings were tough. Her family support worker, Amy, recalls she had a hard time engaging Jessica in conversation or even making eye contact. Jessica was shy and insecure and relied on her mother to communicate for her. Jessica was reluctant to get the help she knew she needed, but over time, she and Amy forged a relationship of trust in which Amy earned the privilege of speaking into her life, making observations, suggestions, and connections that would help Jessica not only navigate being a first-time mom, but also propel her to make positive changes in her life. Jessica found within herself the desire to be a good mom to her son, and she also discovered that the best way to take care of Jayden was to take care of herself.
Jayden has provided motivation for Jessica’s hard work, but Jessica has shown great courage in seeking out the help she has needed along the way. Jessica completed her GED, making it possible for her to advance in her job, and she now has a vision of an ever-improving future in which she can be a good role model for her son. She dreams of working in a hospital one day. Now instead of imagining escape from life’s responsibilities, she imagines a life of helping others.